LIVE STREAM: German Semifinal – Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns battle Dresden Monarchs

The Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns and Dresden Monarchs will meet on familiar grounds Saturday at Optima Sports Park in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany in one of two German semifinal games scheduled the same day.

The Braunschweig New Yorker Lions will battle the Kiel Baltic Hurricanes in the other semifinal.

This is the third straight year Schwäbisch Hall and Dresden are squaring off to decide who advances to the German Bowl.

The undefeated Unicorns downed the Monarchs in the 2015 German semifinals 41-34. They  did the same in 2014 beating Dresden 33-27. In other words, if ever there was a hurdle for the Monarchs to overcome, the Unicorns are it.

ehrenfried-vs-connette

These are the two highest scoring teams in Germany this year by a wide margin. The Dresden offense racked up 708 points in the 14 game regular season while Schwäbisch Hall was right behind with 694 points. No other team was within 100 points.

Brace yourselves for offensive fireworks.

The Monarchs have relied on their high-powered offense all year and in addition to topping the league in points (708) they also led in touchdowns (101) and total yards (7,041), passing yards (4,506) and passing touchdown (65).

Dresden quarterback Brandon Connette was the best passer in the German league in passing yardage with 4,384 yards and in passing touchdowns with 63.

His favorite targets have been Finnish receivers Sebastian Sagne and Micky Kyei. Sagne caught 58 passes for 1,067 yards and 17 touchdowns. Kyei was close behind with 1,019 yards in receptions and 16 touchdowns on 72 catches.

Last week in the win against the Saarland Hurricanes in the quarterfinals, Connette had a more subdued game though completing only 11 of 19 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns although he added two more on the ground. Running back Donald Russell played a large part in the Monarchs attack rushing for 147 yards and a touchdown.

tyler-rutenbeck-vs-sebastien-sagne

The Unicorns swept through the regular season with the second best offense in the league and the third best defense. Schwäbisch Hall averaged 49.6 points per game while giving up 20.1.

Schwäbisch Hall ‘s offense relies on the pass averaging 285 yards a game second only to Dresden. 

Unicorns quarterback Marco Ehrenfried has taken his team to the past two German Bowls and is a veteran to playoff pressure. He led the league in passing efficiency with a rating of 210.6, tossing 58 touchdown passes against only five interceptions. His 3,772 total yards placed him second and two of his receivers, Tyler Rutenbeck and Patrick Donahue were among the top 10 in Germany.

Dresden will be hard pressed to keep Rutenbeck and Donahue under control. Rutenbeck led the league with 1,255 yards receiving while catching 20 touchdown passes. Donahue had 62 receptions for 948 yards and 21 touchdowns so the pair accounted for fully two thirds of Schwäbisch Hall ‘s passing touchdowns.

In their quarterfinal win against the Berlin Rebels last week the Unicorns scored three unanswered touchdowns in the first two quarters of the game and then held on for the win.

Schwäbisch Hall quarterback Marco Ehrenfried threw for 192 yards and two touchdowns, 158 of those yards in the first half, and rushed for the third one himself. Receivers Tyler Rutenbeck and Patrick Donahue had a touchdown reception apiece. Thomas Rauch kicked a 21 yard field goal in the third quarter.

In other words, both defenses will be put to the test in this contest.

cody-pastorino-vs-jordan-glass

Both Schwäbisch Hall and Dresden look to defensive leadership from their secondary and linebackers though. Cody Pastorino is in his third season with the Unicorns and has made his mark. He led his team in tackles from his safety spot during the season with 90 and last week against Berlin he recorded a team high eight.

Dresden’s Jordan Glass plays a similar roving role in the Monarchs defense from his linebacker position. He was third in Germany in overall tackles with 132 but he also recorded 12 sacks on the season. Last week against Saarland he had 13 tackles and two sacks.

This will be a showdown to remember. Both head coaches – Dresden’s John Leijten and the Unicorns Siegfried Gehrke – know each other well.

Schwäbisch Hall Unicorns v. Dresden Monarchs: Saturday, September 24, 5p CET (11a EDT)

Roger Kelly
Roger Kelly is an editor and a writer for AFI. A former PR Director the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League for 7 years, he now lives in Sweden writing about and scouting American Football throughout the world.
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